As a Mets fan, I have a tortured relationship with Matt Harvey. Once the hero of Queens, the pride of Flushing, Matt Harvey’s star has since collapsed in on itself. The starter of the 2013 All Star Game at Citi Field, Harvey fell from grace and was eventually traded by the Mets to the Cincinnati Reds in 2018.
Since then Matt Harvey has bounced around the majors playing with the Reds, the Angels, the Royals, and now with the Baltimore Orioles. And for the first time since 2018, Matt Harvey will take the mound at Citi Field. This time he’ll be wearing a different uniform, and entering from the opposite dugout.
It’s an odd feeling, for sure. The Dark Knight, who would pitch on “Harvey Day” during his time in Queens, might be feeling the oddest. What must it feel like for Matt to return to a city that accepted him with open arms, raised him up as their champion, only to watch him collapse?
And yet, there’s a warmth reverberating through Queens as his anticipated start comes closer. There’s a nostalgic feeling in the air as you ride the 7 Line. Yes, Matt Harvey’s time as a Met was tumultuous, but isn’t that any Mets player?
R.A. Dickey won a Cy Young and got shipped to Toronto. Jason Bay refused to hit at a major league level. Daniel Murphy got the Mets to the World Series with his bat. However, Murph failed to bring his glove against the Royals. Even Carlos Beltran, one of the most revered Mets players, has his Mets career mired with tough moments.
Matt Harvey is no different.
Prior to the broadcast of the first game in the Orioles/Mets series, SNY asked fans to weigh in on whether or not they would boo or cheer for Harvey. Thankfully, 95% said that they would be cheering for Matt Harvey. That’s the correct choice for multiple reasons. The main one is that Matt Harvey was on the front lines fighting for this team early on. When Met fans needed a hero, the Dark Knight was there.
Matt Harvey’s 9th inning entrance in Game 5 of the World Series will forever be my favorite Mets moment. You could feel every Mets fan jump out of their seat and say, “That’s what I want! Gimme the Dark Knight.” To me, Matt Harvey is the essence of what makes the New York Mets special. He was gritty, he was tough, he fought, he was Queens. He’s bleeding on the mound, he’s throwing at Chase Utley, and he’s the guy who experienced first hand how rough it is to drop the city’s hopes of a World Series.
Harvey’s follow-up to his great 2015 campaign was a letdown in the biggest way possible. We all wanted to get back to October, but Harvey could barely get back to the mound after the 4th inning. I was at the game against Washington where he gave up 6 earned runs in 2.2 innings. I was there when he was booed off the mound. That was misplaced anger. Terry Collins should’ve pulled Harvey after Wilson Ramos’ 2-run single. Harvey didn’t need to fight his way out of that game, he needed his manager to be watching out for him. Terry Collins should have known better.
But really the beginning of the end came when Harvey ended his season early in order to have surgery to fix his Thoracic Outlet Syndrome, which was causing him to experience numbness in his throwing hand.
It is important to note here that Harvey was reportedly “forced to shut down for the season.” Struggling to pitch games, waking up the next day without feeling in his right hand, did nothing to deter Harvey from wanting to pitch every five days. That’s the Matt Harvey who we hoped would come back in 2017. That’s the Matt Harvey who came out of the dugout in Game 5. That’s OUR Matt Harvey.
The Matt Harvey we grew to love as Mets fans is, above all things, a fighter. A scrappy, hell-bent gamer who has fought through hell to get back on a major league mound. He deserves to hear nothing but adoration as he takes the hill for the Orioles at Citi Field. My only wish is that he could have gotten one more Harvey Day reception from a packed Citi Field.
Because at the end of the day, Matt Harvey was the hero we needed, and he answered the bell every time.
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